SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft, seen atop a Falcon 9 rocket, at the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 24, 2021, in preparation for the company’s 23rd commercial resupply services mission. Credits: SpaceX
NASA commercial cargo launch provider SpaceX is targeting 5:06 a.m. EST Tuesday, Dec. 21, to launch its 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Monday, Dec. 20.
Dragon’s 6,500 pounds of cargo include a variety of NASA investigations, such as a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. There are also experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program and an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.
About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the station is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22. Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn monitoring operations from the station.
The spacecraft is expected to spend about a month attached to the orbiting outpost before it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida.
For the protection of employees and journalists during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Kennedy Press Site facilities will be open to a limited number of journalists on a first-come, first-served basis.
Full coverage of this mission is as follows (all times Eastern):
Monday, Dec. 20
Noon – NASA TV will broadcast a prelaunch news conference from Kennedy’s Press Site with the following participants:
- Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
- Dr. Bob Dempsey, acting deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
- Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
- Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron
Tuesday, Dec. 21
4:45 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for the 5:06 a.m. launch
Wednesday, Dec. 22
3 a.m. – NASA TV coverage begins for Dragon docking to space station
4:30 a.m. – Docking
NASA TV launch coverage
Live coverage of the launch on NASA TV will begin at 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21. For downlink information, schedules, and links to streaming video, visit:
Audio only of the news conference and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135.
On launch day, a “clean feed” of the launch without NASA TV commentary will be carried on the NASA TV media channel.
NASA website launch coverage
Launch day coverage of the mission will be available on the NASA website. Coverage will include live streaming and blog updates beginning no earlier than 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, as the countdown milestones occur. On-demand streaming video and photos of the launch will be available shortly after liftoff. For questions about countdown coverage, contact the Kennedy newsroom: at 321-867-2468. Follow countdown coverage on our launch blog at:
Attend the launch virtually
Members of the public can register to attend this launch virtually. Registrants will receive mission updates and activities by email. NASA’s virtual guest program for this mission also includes curated launch resources, notifications about related opportunities, and a virtual guest passport stamp following a successful launch.
Watch and engage on social media
Let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtags #Dragon and #NASASocial. You can also stay connected by following and tagging these accounts:
Twitter: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @NASASocial, @Space_Station, @ISS_Research, @ISS National Lab,
Facebook: NASA, NASAKennedy, ISS, ISS National Lab
Instagram: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @ISS, @ISSNationalLab
Learn more about the SpaceX resupply mission at:
- NASA also photo